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Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies

Smaro Kamboureli and Robert Zacharias, editors

TransCanada Series


Paper 310 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-365-2

Release Date: October 2012

Online discount: 25%

$42.95  $32.21



ISBN13: 978-1-55458-397-3

Release Date: January 2013

Online discount: 50%

$42.95  $21.48



Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies is a collection of interdisciplinary essays that examine the various contexts—political, social, and cultural—that have shaped the study of Canadian literature and the role it plays in our understanding of the Canadian nation-state. The essays are tied together as instances of critical practices that reveal the relations and exchanges that take place between the categories of the literary and the nation, as well as between the disciplinary sites of critical discourses and the porous boundaries of their methods. They are concerned with the material effects of the imperial and colonial logics that have fashioned Canada, as well as with the paradoxes, ironies, and contortions that abound in the general perception that Canada has progressed beyond its colonial construction.

Smaro Kamboureli’s introduction demonstrates that these essays engage with the larger realm of human and social practices—throne speeches, book clubs, policies of accommodation of cultural and religious differences, Indigenous thought about justice and ethics—to show that literary and critical work is inextricably related to the Canadian polity in light of transnational and global forces.

Smaro Kamboureli is Canada Research Chair in Critical Studies in Canadian Literature at the University of Guelph. Her publications include Scandalous Bodies: Diasporic Literature in English Canada, which won the Gabrielle Roy Prize, and, with Roy Miki, Trans.Can.Lit: Resituating the Study of Canadian Literature (WLU Press, 2007). She is currently completing a new edition of her anthology Making a Difference: Canadian Multicultural Literature.

Robert Zacharias is a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies at the University of Toronto. His research interests include migration literature, Canadian literature (with a focus on Mennonite literature), 18th-century studies, and critical pedagogy. His work has been published in Mosaic and Studies in Canadian Literature, as well as in the edited collections Embracing Otherness and Narratives of Citizenship.


“This text represents a continuation of a significant groundswell in the realignment of the cultural criteria defining not just Canadian literature, but also Canadian culture and politics. By clear inference the value of such self-reflexive examination extends well beyond the borders of Canada and provides a relationship for a broadened redefinition of literature in general as well as Canadian literature and national indentity.... The historicity of literature as well as its communicative character should presuppose a relation of work, audience, and new work which takes the form of a dialogue as well as a process, and which can be understood in the relationship of message and receiver as well as in the relationship of question and answer, problem and solution. Shifting the Ground is about just that: the relation of old work and old voices to the new work and new voices in building a collective consciousness. While controversial, it is without question a critically important anthology of texts.”

— Christopher Ward, Transnational Literature

Shifting the Ground of Canadian Literary Studies explores the shift towards a foregrounding of the situational and material conditions influencing the production of Canadian literature.... [It] is a work of considerable scholarly achievement. Copiously annotated and with a comprehensive index, it is an excellent source for all interested in exploring the new direction of Canadian studies in the first decade of this millennium.”

— Jane Mattisson Ekstam, Kristianstad University, Sweden, Cantext